Cases against BJP youth leader who offered bounty on Mamata’s head, CID slaps charges 

BJP youth wing leader Yogesh Varshney has announced a reward of Rs 11 lakh for West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s head following state police action against a saffron rally billed as a show of strength.

india Updated: Apr 13, 2017 09:41 IST
Avijit Ghoshal
Avijit Ghoshal
Kolkata, Hindustan Times
Mamata Banerjee,BJP,Yogesh Varshney
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee addresses a government programme during administrative meeting in Murshidabad on Wednesday.(PTI)

A youth BJP leader is facing up to 14 years in jail for offering a bounty of Rs 11 lakh to behead West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee that triggered a political storm and widespread condemnation, even prompting the parent party to distance itself.

A local resident lodged a police complaint in West Bengal’s Bolpur, the same area where a cane charge on a crowd on Hanuman Jayanti allegedly infuriated Yogesh Varshney – the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha leader -- to make the announcement. Tapas Mondal said in the complaint that the bounty created “high commotion and tension in the area”.

The CID picked up the complaint and slapped sections 115 (abetment of offence punishable with death or imprisonment for life), 117 (abetting commission of offence by the public or by more than ten persons), 120B (Punishment of criminal conspiracy), 506 (Punishment for criminal intimidation), 505(1)a (making statements with intent to cause army, navy or airforce personnel mutiny), 505(2) (statements likely to cause, fear or alarm to the public, whereby any person may be induced to commit an offence against the State or against the public tranquility) and 504 ( Intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace) of the Indian Penal Code.

The maximum punishment laid down in these sections is 14 years in jail.

On Wednesday, a police complaint was also filed by Aligarh district Trinamool Congress President Ramphool Upadhyaya.

The announcement by Varshney made on a video triggered such a furore across party lines that even BJP leaders quickly distanced themselves from it. Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh described it as “sheer madness”. The issue was also raised in Parliament with prominent opposition leaders condemning the statement. Union minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said the state government was free to take legal action against Varshney. His colleague Kailash Vijayvargiya decried the offer but pointed out that there was “genuine anger” against Banerjee’s appeasement policies.

The offer was the latest episode in growing clashes between state forces and Hindu right-wing elements, who are gaining muscle and accuse Banerjee of being biased towards Muslims.

The imam of Tipu Sultan Mosque in Kolkata, who is close to the Bengal chief minister, announced a counter-offer of Rs 22 lakh to anyone severing the head of Varshney.

A former legislator of the Samajwadi Party (SP) Jameer Ullah also jumped into the controversy on Wednesday evening and remarked that the tongue of the BJP youth leader should be chopped off.

Varshney later withdrew his statement and apologised. He told the media that he made this announcement in a fit of rage and after seeing video footage of a crowd of Hindus who gathered in Bengal’s Birbhum district to celebrate Hanuman Jayanti (the birthday of Lord Hanuman) being charged with canes.

First Published: Apr 13, 2017 09:40 IST